Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Improv Process and a Recipe

The improv quilt block process is basically whatever the quilter makes it to be.  What I am showing is my personal process.  In truth, this changes from time to time depending on my mood. (Yes, seriously.)
Some quilters think that they need to cut neat exact pieces for any block, but that is not how I do this.  For me, improv is grabbing a piece to add on that hopefully will look good and have a nice value change. (dark against light.)   My pieces don't always fit exactly.   Look at this piece.
The hand-dyed yellow/white was a piece that a piece had been cut from.  It wasn't quite long enough so I just sewed it on and then sewed another bit over the corner. It still wasn't enough so I added the green triangle to fill out the corner.  I don't trim it all neatly as I go - but I do trim seam allowances as I go - usually with my scissors.  That curved edge will be trimmed into a straight line before I sew anything onto that side.

This next piece (the center section) was scraps cut away from some other block parts.
It was in two parts.  On one part the dark green bit was added to bring up the width and then the pieces were sewn together.  The yellow triangle was added on one side.  Then the burgundy bit added at that top. Obviously I will be adding more to work toward a square shape. Some of this may be cut away in the process, but the scraps are getting used.

In the final one, the green strip was added across the top without trimming.  It is faster for me this way and I stay more in the creative flow.
Perhaps you noticed that new fabrics are being added as I go?  This adds some variety as well as allowing other scraps to be used from the scrap basket. But if you notice, the greens pull from the greens in the snails on the yellow fabric.  The burgundy is close in value and color to the purple that has been used in most of the blocks.  Honestly, I didn't think about this until I had sewn these fabrics in. I suspect that my subconscious mind was giving me hints.  I have learned that you should trust your instincts.  At worst, you may have to cut up a piece and re-do it.  But following your instincts will speed you up and develop your own style in the long run.

Recipe as requested!


Several asked for the recipe for the "cake" that I made for Mom's birthday.  The recipe that I used was for the filling between the layers.  It is Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting.

* note: I did cut this in half as I was only using it between the layers - but then I added a bit more cream cheese - because---YUM!.
Peanut Butter/Cream Cheese Frosting

1(8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1⁄2cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 -3 1⁄2cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk or 2 tablespoons cream

DIRECTIONS
Mix together cream cheese and peanut butter with mixer until smooth.
Add vanilla and powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, along with the milk or cream and beat until spreading consistency.
(I used only 3 cups powdered sugar and 2-3 tbsp. of milk).
Spread on cooled cake.




Big Confession:  I used a Duncan Hines dark chocolate cake mix - it said "3 large eggs" but I substituted 2 Jumbos and one Large egg.  Other than that I followed the directions.  I alway put a parchment circle in the bottom of the pan.
Next- for the outside frosting- I used Duncan Hines  Dark Chocolate Fudge frosting. (no high fructose corn sweetener.)   I put it in a bowl and whip it pretty good with the mixer to make it spread better  and look prettier on the finished cake. 
Then I used some mini chocolate chips all over the top which worked out very nicely. They add a surprising bit of "chew" to that you wouldn't have otherwise.  I really liked that addition.



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Monday, May 21, 2018

Improv Quilting - and a Birthday

I have been slowing adding to the improv blocks that I am making. I have no idea what this will turn into, but I am having fun playing with it.

I took the original two and added an applique piece to the one on the left here so that the pink fabric "marries" the two pieces a bit better.

 In other news, my mother is having her eighty-err something birthday this week,  so we had a party for her this past Saturday.  We did it early to attempt to surprise her.  I am not sure if it worked or not. Ha ha. 
Besides making some roasted brussels sprouts for the meal, I also made a chocolate cake with a peanut butter/cream cheese filling.  I regret that I didn't take a photo.  I can assure you that it was delicious.  I did save a bit so that Mom can have a piece on her actual birthday.  She doesn't know about it, so that will be another surprise for her.
Here is a photo my niece took of me with Mom that afternoon.
Happy Birthday Mom!



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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

More Improv Quilting

Several months ago I was playing with pattern repeats using some Spiderman fabric.  I happened to notice that the blue fabric with squares in the other improv blocks had the same colors and similar values and tones.  So the test pieces became the beginnings for some more improv blocks.
By adding strips of the same fabrics in the other improv blocks, it was easy to make the blocks all work together.
This one is still a little bit undersized, but I really like where this is going at this point.  The other one still needs several rounds of strips to get to size.  But I am still playing with the fabrics.


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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Improv Quilt Blocks

Improvisational quilting is a very old idea.  Still there are several fairly new books on the subject. I have read a couple of those books.  I have also taken a week-long class with the Gee's Bend quilters.   What I have learned from it all is that you need to trust your instincts and have fun playing with your fabrics.

I took two blocks that were in my orphan pile and decided to "re-imagine" them.  I started with a simple nine patch. Sorry, I forgot to take a before photo of this one.  I then cut a couple of  strips and crossed it in both directions.

You can see that this makes the edges get a little wonky.  So it needed trimmed.  I trimmed it to 9 1/2" square.
At this point I am not loving it, but I will let it sit a bit and work on the next one.
For this one I started with a big half square triangle block.
By itself it is not anything special. So I took some scrap strips and sewed across the corners -trimmed off the corners and sewed them to the outside edge of the strips and squared this one up to a 10 1/2" block.
Hmmmm... now I have two blocks that don't go together colorwise - and are different sizes.  More scraps of the yellow strip and the blue fabric with squares to the rescue.  I did more sub-cutting and adding strips.  Two inside the block one direction and then two were added to the edges in the other direction.
9-Patch: Take Two
The blocks are now the same size and because I repeated fabrics from the other block - they don't look so bad together.
When these are added to a quilt top with lots of different fabrics they will play very nicely together. . Seriously, I know with just the two blocks it isn't great.  I really need to see if I have more of the light pink from the 9-patch to make an applique shape for the other block.

The art concept of repetition with variation is what makes this work The idea is that you repeat elements (in this case fabrics) but in different sizes (or shapes) so that the subconscious connects them and the viewer's eye follows through the design.


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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Paint surprise

The run off from the painting that I liked best did this:
Yes, it formed cells. Yes, it is far more interesting than the canvas.  I am hoping that it will stay and dry in this form. You see, acrylic paint on a smooth surface will become a plastic film that can be peeled up and used in collage.  I am thinking that I could collage this right onto the painting that it dripped from and make it better. 
Sadly, when I went back after typing this, it had all shifted and run together into a muddy mess.

The other small cups of paint were still liquid so I poured more paint over the piece that I didn't like.  I still did not get cells, but I did try.   I wonder if I will be able to develop this into something interesting.  Right now it is more "Massacre at the O. No Corral."   ha ha.

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